Trail Guides
Hamilton Preserve

New York Avenue, Hamilton Township, NJ
Phone: (609) 984-1339

OWNER:  New Jersey Natural Lands Trust

DIRECTIONS:  Exit Lake Lenape Park, and turn Left onto Old Harding Highway, and then Left onto Mill Street. Make the first Right onto Main Street. Continue straight through two traffic lights and bear Right to follow CR 559 South/Somers Point Road. After 1.4 miles, turn Left at the traffic light onto Babcock Road. After 2.1 miles, turn Right onto Route 40/Harding Highway. Make the first Right onto New York Avenue. After 0.5 miles, park on the Right at the entrance for Hamilton Preserve.

DIRECTIONS FROM NEAREST HIGHWAY:  From the intersection of Route 40 and Route 50 in Mays Landing, continue East on Route 40/ Harding Highway. After 3.2 miles, turn Right on New York Avenue. After 0.5 miles, park on the Right at the entrance for Hamilton Preserve.   Map

ACCESS AND PARKING:  Open daily from dawn to dusk. Minimal roadside parking. No Trespassing signs at entrance refer to motor vehicles – pedestrian entry is permitted. No marked or maintained trails. Refer to njnlt.org for hunting policies.

NEAREST PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION:  NJ Transit bus 553 stops at Harding Highway and Cologne Avenue. Walk East on Haring Highway for 0.5 miles, turn Right on New York Avenue, and walk another 0.5 miles South to the entrance for Hamilton Preserve on the Right.

SPECIAL FEATURES:  Additional fishing ponds can be reached from New York Road, 0.3 miles further South on the Right, and from Egg Harbor Avenue, 0.7 miles from its intersection with New York Road. These are also good places to scan for Wood Duck, Ruddy Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron and other waterfowl, especially in the fall.

A CLOSER LOOK:  Hamilton preserve is thought by many to contain the largest remaining stand of Knieskern’s beaked rush on the planet. This small, unassuming grass-like plant requires specific sandy soil conditions and the proper wet and dry seasons, and favors the vernal pools within the preserve. For more information visit http://nj.gov/dep/njnlt/hamilton.htm

Pine Barrens Treefrog
Pine Barrens TreefrogMatt Webster
SITE DESCRIPTION:  Hamilton Preserve encompasses over 1900 acres of Pine Barrens habitat long Gravelly Run, a tributary of the nationally designated Wild and Scenic Great Egg Harbor River. Several species of state endangered wildlife and even some federally threatened plants occur within the preserve, and more common species of wildlife are abundant year-round. Dikes and ponds within the preserve are the result of historic sand-mining operations, and now provide an excellent web of trails and wetlands for the intrepid naturalist to explore. The Atlantic County Bikeway also runs through the preserve, providing a wide, level path to stroll through the thick forest. For more information and a map of the bikeway visit http://www.aclink.org/PARKS/mainpages/Bikeway.asp

DON'T MISS:  Visit the preserve in June or July for an excellent variety of dragonflies and damselflies, blooming pond lilies and good freshwater fishing opportunities.

Winter:  Look for young sweet gum trees along the ponds and note the dramatic winglets on the branches, a feature now visible since the leaves have dropped. Flocks of Tufted Titmouse and Carolina Chickadee are joined by Golden-crowned Kinglet and Yellow-rumped Warbler in the pitch-pine lowlands. Watch for the occasional Belted Kingfisher fishing in the ponds. Listen for Great-horned and Barred Owl at dusk. Long-eared Owl may also occur on the preserve. River otter, muskrat, raccoon and white-tailed deer are among mammals that leave tracks along the sand paths and pond banks.
Spring:  Migrant songbirds move through the woods. Watch for Black-and-white Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Pine Warbler and Blue-winged Warbler among others. Early spring butterflies such as mourning cloak, spring azure, and Juvenal’s duskywing flit about the understory. Blue corporal, lancet clubtail and fragile forktail are among the first dragonflies and damselflies to emerge. Buttercups and wild cranberry bloom in open areas. Gray treefrog and Pine Barrens treefrog call for mates in the evening.
Summer:  Breeding birds include Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Ovenbird, Canada Goose, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Carolina Wren and Red-winged Blackbird. Spatulate and round-leaved sundew are profuse along pond edges. Laurels and blueberries bloom in the woods, and lilies and bladderworts bloom in the ponds. Fishing is good for bluegill, pickerel, and large-mouth bass. Scan opposite banks for basking red-bellied turtles and the occasional Green Heron. Northern water snake, garter snake, ribbon snake and ring-necked snake may be spotted on the preserve, as well as fence lizard and five-lined skink.
Fall:  Osprey fish over the impoundments. Watch for Broad-winged, Coopers and Red-shouldered Hawk catching thermals overhead. Tree Swallow, Purple Martin, and sometimes Bank Swallow can be seen in mixed flocks over the ponds. Keep an eye out for Hermit Thrush, Palm Warbler, Cedar Waxwing, American Robin and Northern Mockingbird on woodland edges. Green frog and pickerel frog are still active along pond edges through October. Red squirrels and chipmunks rustle through the forest floor.

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